A Large-Scale Investigation of Gaming, Attitudes and Anxiety – (1) Introduction

I love research and that’s why in addition to my job and PhD I like to look at things which intrigue me outside of my academic enviroment, in a semi-academic way. In my previous endeavor on SC2 and Multitasking I found that increasing hours of SC2 played is indicative of a poorer satisfaction with life. Since I only had 75 partipants in this data set all coming from the TeamLiquid community I hardly had an accurate representation of the SC2 gaming folks. So my original plan with the present study was to replicate these results with some more participants and extent the analysis over more games. For this purpose I put my survey in the subreddit /r/SampleSize three times until I aimed at gaming-specific subreddits, in particular /r/Starcraft and /r/LeagueOfLegends. I am now in the fortunate position of having a sample of 14500 participants. Nearly 9000 of them indicated League Of Legends (LoL) as the game they played the most, so I need to be careful with a comparison based on these unbalanced group sizes. Adequaetly representing the gender balance on Reddit I got 13417 male participants.

To evaluate the gamers on several personality traits I employed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale, the Satisfaction With Life Scale and the Single Item Narcissism Scale. The scales were left in the original item order and answer distributions.

The initial results confirm that the more hours you play a game (mostly representing LoL as stated above), the less satisfied you are with your life (3%) and the more you tend towards Generalized Anxiety Disorder (2%). However, these results are preliminary and should be taken with a grain of salt.

My personal challenge at the moment is to find an efficient way to standardize the game titles, as this was a free-text field and I don’t want to manually edit 12000+ entries.


  • Scale differences in different games
  • Scale differences in different motivations (play for fun, to win, etc)
  • Relationship between certain Attitudes and gaming habits
  • Cultural differences in scales and gaming habits
  • Gender differences


Spitzer RL, Kroenke K, Williams JBW, Lowe B. A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder. Arch Inern Med. 2006;166:1092-1097.

Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.

Konrath S, Meier BP, Bushman BJ (2014) Development and Validation of the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS). PLoS ONE 9(8): e103469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103469

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1 Response

  1. 16th March 2015

    […] Remember the three scales I employed. The Satisafaction With life scale, Social Phobia Inventory and Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7. A correlational analysis reveals who much the values in two or more data sets are varying together. I found out that the more hours you play, the less satisfied with your life you tend to be (r = -.013, p < .001). Also, the more you play, the higher your social phobia (r = .09, p < .001). The relationship of “hours played” and social phobia is as expected. People who play a lot of games are likely to be socially more isolated than people who don’t. This is not exclusive to gaming but any hobby one pursues on their own taken to an extreme (like binge watching TV). More interestingly,  a lot of time spent on gaming may be due to unhappiness in life in general. As I already mentioned elsewhere, with correlational analyses we are unable to make any causal conclusions at all. To understand this, have a look at these spurious correlations. This means cannot say whether people play more because they are unhappy or are unhappy because they play more. Both might be the case, although I am inclined to believe that unsatisfactory life conditions lead to people isolate themselves more and play more games. To visualize correlations with many data points is unfortunately not easy. I tried it with hexbins. […]

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